Recap of the day
Early starters: The low round of the morning went to Ryan Blaum who gained 2.647 strokes putting en route to a 6-under 64. Other notables from the morning include Stephan Jaeger and Bronson Burgoon who both fired rounds of 65.
Afternoon starters: The big mover of the day was Abraham Ancer who lapped the field average by more than 7.5 strokes with an 8-under 62. It easily eclipsed his previous career low on TOUR by three strokes. Francesco Molinari posted a second straight 5-under 65 to join Ancer at the top. This is the first 54-hole lead or co-lead on the PGA TOUR for both golfers. In fact, it's the first time Ancer has entered the final round inside the top 10. Zac Blair caught fire with the flat stick, rolling home four birdies in a five-hole stretch as he made the turn. Tiger Woods made a big charge on his outward nine but slowed his pace on his way into the clubhouse.
Sunday weather forecast
Sunny and hot, with a high near 97. Heat index as high as 103. Calm winds in the 5-to-7 MPH range.
The Leaders - how they performed
Ryan Armour (68, 199) – The laid-back ball-striker had a roller-coaster ride around TPC Potomac. He circled six birdies but also swallowed four bogeys. That was a big change from his opening 36 holes where he traded 10 birdies with just one bogey.
Beau Hossler: (71, 202) – The Texas Longhorn got a little crazy off the tee, today. He split just five (of 14) fairways so it's actually impressive that he escaped with JUST a 1-over 71. Despite birdie bombs from 33'11" and 50'11", Hossler gained just 0.543 strokes putting on the round. That lets us know that his typical steady putting wasn't there for the rest of the round. Still, he ranks 2nd in the field in SGP on the week.
Brian Gay (72, 203) – Holed out three times from off the greens but he was in recovery mode all day. Landed just nine greens in regulation. Will enter the final round six strokes off the lead.
Fate of the favorites
Rickie Fowler (69, 205) - Doesn't have anything worse than a bogey on his cards this week and he's recorded just five bogeys. He just can't find the scoring magic, circling just 10 birdies so far, four today.
Tiger Woods (68, 203) - Continued to putt well and made a big charge with five birdies over a six-hole stretch today. Gave four shots back along the way. Gave himself a 10-under target and he walked off the course three shy.
Marc Leishman (69, 203) - Split 12 (of 14) fairways today but lost more than a stroke approaching-the-greens. He is bogey-free on the back nine this week (7-under). That could come in handy if he rockets out of the gate and finds himself in the mix.
Francesco Molinari (65, 197) - He's missed just six greens in regulation...on the week. He's the man to beat on Sunday but he will need to putt a charge in his putter. This will be his first time sleeping on a PGA TOUR 54-hole lead or co-lead.
Road to victory at TPC Potomac
2017 - Kyle Stanley - R1: 32nd, R2: 23rd, R3: 7th
Notes: Stanley was lurking off the pace at the midpoint last year but fashioned a 3-under 67 on Saturday to put him in position to win. Howell III followed Stanley from 23rd to 7th after round three. They eventually met up in a playoff. They both entered Sunday just four strokes off the lead set by David Lingmerth.
Fate of last year's 54-hole leader
2017 – David Lingmerth - 5th
Notes: The Swede looked unbeatable after opening 65s but a pair of 73s over the weekend dropped him into a share of fifth place by week's end. Driving Accuracy was an easy indicator to blame as he split 22 (of 28) fairways before the cut and then found just 15 fairways over the final two days. Lingmerth also didn't convert a single putt outside 10 feet over the weekend (0-for-22).
Focus on – Correlated Courses
Looking at the leaders, let's see where their career-best finishes on TOUR have come...
Abraham Ancer - T8/2018 Houston Open, T9/2017-18 OHL Classic, T13/2018 Corales
Francesco Molinari - T2/2017 PGA Championship (Quail Hollow), T3/2011 WGC-Cadillac Championship, T3/2015 Memorial Tournament
Zac Blair - 3/2016 Sony Open, T4/2015 Barclays, T6/2015 Sony Open
Ryan Armour - WIN/2017 Sanderson Farms, 4/OHL Classic, T4/2017 Wyndham Championship
There isn't a ton of overlap on this list but most of these courses cater to the shorter hitters.
Digging deeper, the connection to the Sanderson Farms (CC of Jackson) turned out strong this week, especially early in the week.
If we look at the first-round leaders at this year's Sanderson Farms we'd see Andrew Landry, J.J. Spaun, and Ryan Armour all share the lead. They all popped up this week too. The final podium at that event included Ryan Armour, Chesson Hadley, and Beau Hossler. All three are in the mix this week at TPC Potomac.
Ryan Armour certainly hopes that trend continues on Sunday as that was the site of his first (and only) PGA TOUR title.
Focus on – Tiger's Putter
There was early-week outrage when loyalists saw Tiger Woods switch to a mallet-style putter. Woods didn't silence any doubters in round one but since then he's gained 2.041 strokes putting in R2 and then gained 0.984 strokes putting today. Woods is picking up confidence with the flat stick which makes him a very real threat to toss together a low round tomorrow and put some pressure on the current leaders. His best approach round this week gained just 0.743 strokes over the field, so perhaps he's also due in that department. It's asking a lot to storm back from a six-shot deficit but we just saw Bubba Watson do it last week at the Travelers Championship.